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Mother-daughter team tackles new antiques shop

Theresa Swinney paints in preparation of a September opening of Red Door Antiques.

Theresa Swinney paints in preparation of a September opening of Red Door Antiques.

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

Downtown Lincolnton will soon welcome a new antique store to Main Street.
In just three weeks, mother and daughter duo Gail and Theresa Swinney will open Red Door Antiques to the public, a store which will offer not only traditional antiques, but vintage and shabby chic interpretations. The store’s downtown Lincolnton location is thousands of miles from Gail Swinney’s hometown “across the pond.”
“I was born in England, and we moved to the (United) States in 1968,” she explained. “My stepfather was in Civil Service, and he got stationed at an Air Force base in Illinois. So, that’s how we ended up over here. And then I married an American, and the rest is history.”
Since leaving Illinois, Swinney has resided in Newton for almost 16 years.
“My love for antiques goes back a long way,” Swinney said. “We’ve had booths for about five years in different places, but I’ve always enjoyed collecting things. Being from England, I used to go back quite regularly and visit family, and I always managed to come back with hoards of different antiques — English things. I’ve always loved teacups and teapots. I’m drawn to the old English teapots and teacups, the ones that speak to me and have character. That’s how I started collecting.”
Swinney attributes her fascination with antique collecting to her mother.
“I’ve always enjoyed going to flea markets, and my mother is very crafty,” she continued. “She was always in booths, fairs and flea markets, so it just sort of progressed from there.”
Having collected items for nearly 25 years, Swinney decided it was time to redirect the passion for her hobby into a business.
“After you collect so much, you have to find an outlet to let go of some things,” she explained. “And then when you let go of things, then you have room to go out and buy more, and your collection grows and grows and grows!”
For Swinney, one of the main attractions she has to antiques is the rich history that often accompanies each piece..
“I love the story behind a piece,” she said. “To me, if you have, say, a butcher block. If somebody tells you that their great-uncle made this in the 1800s, that’s when it becomes real…I just love the history behind things, and they just don’t make things like this anymore. It’s just not the same.”
Swinney said older pieces are traditionally better quality and last longer.
Unlike some antique stores in western North Carolina, Swinney plans to include traditional antique items as well as pieces that fall under the vintage or shabby chic categories.
“To be a true antique, it has to be of a certain age,” she said. “I think normally they say 75 years or older to be in that realm…to really be considered an antique. But to me, and that’s why we sell antiques as well as vintage items. So, vintage could be of anything, and since we also do shabby chic, that could be a new piece or an old piece that we have changed the aesthetics of just a little bit. Whimsy is also (part of our store). It doesn’t have to be 100 years old to be considered to have that whimsical character.
“That’s why our banner says ‘Red Door Antiques,’ and underneath it says ‘Vintage, Whimsy and Shabby,’” she added. “We want to encompass all of that. We want a blend of everything, to appeal to all ages, men and women. We don’t want to just cater to one specific (person).”
According to Swinney, her daughter was the one who stumbled upon the then-vacant Main Street building.
“We had been on the lookout for a building for some time, and one day Theresa was running errands down here and she happened to see the building and thought it would be a good place,” Swinney said. “We thought the building had enough character and history.”
According to Swinney, the building was once owned by a famous dressmaker named Alma.
“From what I’ve heard, she made dresses for many governors’ wives,” she said. “We liked that the building has a story.”
Since acquiring the building Aug. 1, Swinney and her daughter have been working hard to organize and prepare the store for their September opening.
“I think more and more people today are blending (their furniture pieces,)” she said. “They’re bringing in mid-century modern pieces and they’re just blending things. They’re realizing they don’t have to be all what I call ‘matchy-matchy’ anymore. People used to have a couch and two matching end tables on the sides, and I don’t think people do that so much anymore.
“Something else is that I don’t think that a lot of people can see outside of the box,” Swinney said. “They see the couch with the matching end tables. But, when they come into a place like this, they can see how we mix it up and start to think ‘Wow, I could do that. What a great idea.’ So, I just think (seeing our store) makes them think outside the box a little bit.”
As far as acquiring pieces, Swinney and her family often search for items during their travels.
“We still have family back in Illinois and we always drive, so we just stop along the way and look,” she explained. “We go to auctions, estate sales, flea markets — wherever we see something that catches our eye…you never know when you’ll find that special piece.”
In addition to Swinney’s collections, room will be available in the downstairs portion of the store for those interested in renting booths for pieces and consignment items.
“I want to make it so that there’s at least one thing you can find that you’re interested in; we don’t want someone to walk in and immediately say, ‘there’s nothing for me here,’” she said. “We’ll have small knickknacks that start at $2, but then there will be larger items that may cost $700-$800. But, I don’t want anyone to think you have to have a ton of money to shop here. We want to appeal to all different price ranges.”
Red Door Antiques, located at 602 East Main Street in Lincolnton, will open Sept. 3. At this time, the store will be open seven days a week, open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Those interested in learning more about Red Door Antiques, should visit http://www.reddoorantiquesoflincolnton.com/.

Image courtesy of aclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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